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2013 ITIN Updated Procedures Frequently Asked Questions

What are the new procedural changes to the ITIN application requirements?
The IRS is revising its procedures for issuing new Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) based on an extensive review of the ITIN process and feedback from Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs) and Acceptance Agents (AAs), stakeholders and others.  Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, must include original documentation such as passports and birth certificates, or certified copies of these documents by the issuing agency. Notarized or Apostilled copies of documentation will not be accepted.

Are there any applicants who are exempt from these new requirements?
As announced in June 2012, some categories of applicants are not impacted by these documentation changes, including:

  • Military spouses and military dependents without an SSN who need an ITIN (Military spouses use box "e" on Form W-7 and dependents use box "d"). Exceptions to the new document standards will be made for military family members satisfying the documentation requirements by providing a copy of the spouse or parent's U.S. military identification, or applying from an overseas APO/FPO address.
  • Nonresident aliens applying for ITINs for the purpose of claiming tax treaty benefits (use boxes "a" and "h" on Form W-7). Non-resident alien applicants generally need ITINs for reasons besides filing a U.S. tax return. This is necessary for nonresident aliens who may be subject to third-party withholding for various income, such as certain gambling winnings or pension income, or need an ITIN for information reporting purposes. While existing documentation standards will be maintained only for these applicants, scrutiny of the documents will be heightened. ITIN applications of this category that are accompanied by a U.S. tax return will be subject to the updated document standards.

The Oct. 2, 2012 procedures put into place for the following groups will remain in effect:

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) participants. SEVP participants already provide documentation to the Department of Homeland Security under the requirements of that program. Individuals studying under the SEVP will be required to apply through a university, college or other SEVP-approved institution. These are individuals admitted to the U.S. under an F, J or M visa who receive taxable scholarship, fellowship or other grants reportable by the school on Form W-2 or Form 1042-S. These procedures cover applications for the primary applicant, their spouse and dependents.
  • Non-citizens with approved Tax Year 2011 extensions to file their tax returns. These are noncitizens who requested an extension of time to file a 2011 federal income tax return for resident and nonresident aliens and choose to not submit originals documents or copies.

What is the difference between a "certified" and a "notarized" document?
A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official stamped seal from the Agency. These documents will be accepted. A notarized document is one that the taxpayer provides to a public notary who bears witness to the signing of the official document and affixes a seal assuring that the document is legitimate. These documents will not be accepted for ITIN applications. Note there are some applicants who are exempt from this change. This exemption is described in a previous question.

Why is IRS changing the ITIN program procedures?
The IRS is instituting new program changes designed to strengthen the ITIN process.

When will the new program changes be effective?
These changes will be effective for all new applications submitted on or after January 1, 2013.

If a taxpayer had a pending application on file with IRS before January 1, 2013, that included original or certified documents, will the taxpayer need to take any additional action?
No. IRS will continue to process pending applications that include original or certified copies from the issuing agency documentation.

Will IRS Publications (e.g., 1915, 4520 or 4327), or ITIN related forms and instructions change to reflect this new requirement? If so, when will they change and when will they be available to the public?
Since these are final changes, publications, forms and instructions will change. These and other appropriate instructions will be updated to reflect the new policy.

Will taxpayers be able to submit Form W-7 applications (with original documents) at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers?
Yes, Primary, secondary, and dependant persons may submit W-7 applications in person (with original documents) at designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Designated Taxpayer Assistance Centers will certify only original and copies certified by the issuing agency passports and National ID cards. 

Which documents are acceptable?
See the instructions for Form W-7. These instructions list the 13 acceptable documents.

Will the IRS return my original documents to me? How long will it take to get them back? How long will it take to get them back?
The IRS has a process in place to ensure that documents are returned to applicants. The original and certified documents will be returned to applicants using the mailing address on the application via postage paid standard U.S. mail within 60 days of receipt and processing of the Form W-7.

Whom should I contact if I do not receive the documents within the allotted period?
If you do not receive your original documents within 65 days of mailing to the IRS, allowing 5 days for postal mail receipt, you may call 1-800-908-9982 (U.S. only) or for international, call 1-267-941-1000 (this is not a toll free number).

Are there any alternative options for me if I do not want to mail the original documents I have such as my passport?
In lieu of sending original documentation, primary and secondary applicants will have the option to use a CAA, designated TAC locations and the IRS Tax Attaché at the U.S. embassies in  Frankfurt, London, or Paris. A dependant applicant can have a passport or national ID card authenticated by a designated TAC location however, all other forms of documentation (originals or certified copies from the issuing agency) must be mailed to the IRS.

If I cannot get the documents I need to apply for an ITIN, can I apply for a Social Security number instead?
If you qualify for a social security number, you should not be applying for an ITIN.

Can my foreign consulate or embassy certify my documents?
You may be able to request a certified copy of documents at an embassy or consulate. However, services may vary between countries, so we recommend that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy for specific information.

My consulate or embassy wants to know why I need a certified copy of my passport. What should I provided them as proof of requirement?
We recommend that you refer the consulate or embassy to the information on or that you download and copy of that information and provide it to them.

Will the IRS accept an apostille document?
The IRS is only accepting original documentation or copies of documents certified by the issuing country or agency. An apostille does not meet these requirements since it is similar to the U.S. Notary, which we are currently not accepting. You may be able to request a certified copy of identification documents at the applicant's embassy or consulate. However, services may vary between countries so we recommend that you contact the appropriate consulate or embassy for that information.   

As a reminder, some categories of applicants are exempt from the requirement to provide original or certified copies including U.S. Military spouses (box "e" on Form W-7), U.S. Military dependents (box "d" on Form W-7), and non-resident aliens applying for ITINs to claim tax treaty benefits (box "a" and "h" on Form W-7).

Additional Information for Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs) and Acceptance Agents (AAs)

Can CAAs and AAs still submit Forms W-7 to the IRS for taxpayers?
Yes, CAAs and AAs can still submit Forms W-7 on behalf of their clients and are allowed to use Form W-7 (COA) to certify that they have reviewed and verified the original documentation or a certified copy from the issuing agency of those documents through face-to-face or video electronic interviews with all primary and secondary applicants. CAAs are required to submit copies of the documents that they reviewed for the primary and secondary applicants along with the Form W-7 (COA). You are required to attach the original documents or certified copies from issuing agency for dependents. Note the exempt applicants described above.

Will IRS continue to process applications to become an AA or CAA?
Those interested in being an AA or CAA should still submit their applications during the annual open season. The next open season is scheduled for May 1, 2015 through August 31, 2015.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 02-Apr-2015